|City||Boston, Massachusetts, USA|
Their style of music influenced many aspects of alternative rock throughout the 1990s.
The band hailed from Boston, Massachusetts, where it was formed in 1986 by Joey Santiago and Black Francis. They hooked up with Deal and Lovering after placing a classified ad citing an unusual combination of musical influences. They flipped through the dictionary for a band name, selecting "Pixies" as opposed to "The Pixies", and began playing around Boston.
During a concert in which the Pixies played with another Boston band, Throwing Muses, they were noticed by Gary Smith, a producer at Fort Apache studios. Smith took on the Pixies as their manager, and had them produce a demo tape (known as the "Purple Tapes", publicly released in 2002). The demo fell into the hands of Ivo Watts-Russell, owner of 4AD, who signed the band. Some of the songs on the tape were then released directly as an EP, Come on Pilgrim. Their first full-length album, Surfer Rosa was released in the first part of 1988.
4AD was a British music label, and the notoriously rabid British music press immediately clutched the Pixies to their collective bosoms and refused to let go. The band remained unsigned in the US for a while, but after a foray up the UK pop charts and some inroads into American college rock stations, they were picked up by Elektra Records. For the remainder of their career, the Pixies remained large-scale stars in Britain and minor figures in the US.
Their next album was Doolittle, and featured three prominent singles: "Debaser," "Here Comes Your Man," and "Monkey Gone to Heaven." It was a top 10 hit in the UK and reached the top 100 in North America.
After that album, Black Francis went solo for a little while, while Kim Deal formed The Breeders with fellow Bostonian Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses and Deal's sister, Kelley. During this time Black Francis appears to have decided to cut Deal's contributions to the band — the first two albums had been partly written by Deal, but when Bossanova was released in 1990, all the songs were by him. Deal was not pleased, and unilateral announced an apparently break-up of the band on-stage during the following tour. The Pixies were at the height of their popularity, however, and while headlining at the Reading Festival in 1991, they played a highly enthusiastic version of "Debaser" which has become legendary among the band's fans.
Break-up announcements notwithstanding, one more album was to follow. Trompe le Monde featured little input from Deal, though, and after opening for U2 on the North American portion of their Zoo TV tour the group essentially fell apart. A year later, Black Francis charmingly faxed an official notice of the end to the other members of the band.
After the break-up, before the reunionBlack Francis renamed himself Frank Black, and released a series of solo projects. Deal returned to the Breeders, and scored a hit with "Cannonball" from that group's Last Splash in 1993. For several years thereafter they struggled, like the Stone Roses and Elastica, to produce another album, mainly due to Kelley Deal's struggles with heroin. The album, Title TK, finally appeared in 2002, with only Kim and Kelley remaining from the previous Breeders lineup. Kim Deal has also recorded with The Amps. Lovering has dropped back into obscurity, making occasional appearances as a "scientific phenomenalist", performing experiments on stage; he also drummed on one of Tanya Donnelly's solo albums. Santiago has appeared on Frank Black's solo albums, writes music for FOX television, and has a band called The Martinis with his wife, Linda Mallari.
Musically, the Pixies were just slightly ahead of their time. Right at the moment they were imploding, Nirvana was recording Nevermind, the album that would break alternative rock into the big time. There are substantial parallels between the two groups' sounds and Kurt Cobain was known to have been a fan—in fact, an admission by him in a Rolling Stone interview that "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was his attempt to write a Pixies song sparked a small burst of re-interest in the band after they were gone.
ReunionIn the 11 years since the band broke up, there were a number of rumors that would circulate regarding reunion tours. Roughly once a year on April Fool's Day someone would be led to believe that the band had re-united. It wasn't until 2004 when the Pixies would play their first "post-breakup" concert on April 13 at The Fine Line Music Cafe in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Pixies are holding a reunion tour of the United States and Europe in mid-2004, more than ten years after their 1992 Zoo TV tour. Currently, the band plans to tour eleven cities in Canada and the western U.S., including Bumbershoot and the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. This will be followed by a six-week tour of Europe, which includes Lisbon and London. See tentative tour dates (http://www.pixiesmusic.com/live_04.php) for detailed information.
4AD has plans to release two additional Pixies compilations in spring of 2004. A 1988 concert as well as eight music videos, commentary and interviews is being compiled for DVD release, and a "new retrospective compilation CD" is also set for the shelves.